|Thomas J. Mazur - District 8
MARCH 12, 2007
STUDENTS NEED TO BE PART OF OUR COMMUNITY TO STAY
I'm in favor of bonding $15 million to build a nice downtown campus for Erie Community College, even though I'm not sure to what extent students attending a community college will help bolster the revitalization of downtown.
About 80 percent of the students who attend ECC are gainfully employed - meaning that they schedule class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m.-12 noon and then they scoot off to work afterwards. The typical student does not hang around much and contribute to local businesses. And, there's not great allegiance to the institution because most of the students are using the community college as a stepping stone to another school.
We're spoiled in this area with many fine educational institutions. But due to our dwindling population I think it's time to consider building one state of the art community college. I think one of the major mistakes we made as a region was to build our university in an area that's mostly off the beaten path - a decision that marginalized the positive effects a major state university can have on a city, and vice versa. The university is not part of our daily lives as it should be.
A solution to this miscalculation is a state of the art community college that integrates students into the local economy. The very nature of a community college is that it should be part of our community. I would love to see as a prerequisite for a degree a cooperative work arrangement among local businesses and industries. Each student would have to intern somewhere in order to learn about the world of work. I have heard it said that the education system in America is preparing students for jobs that no longer exist. And with the speed at which technology is changing, it takes less than a year for things to become obsolete.
Wouldn't it make sense to at least give our students an opportunity to get a hands-on approach to the world of work? Let them find out first hand, if what they're schooling for is really something they'd care to do once they get their degree.
We talk about the brain drain all the time around here; our children leaving Western New York once they graduate from school to take a job elsewhere. That doesn't have to be so. If we take the time to foster a relationship with our students and find out what they're thinking so we can share what we're thinking, maybe we can get them to hang around for a little bit. But this won't happen if they're not part of our community.
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